Along with Swiss university ETH Zurich and video-production company Verity Studios, Cirque du Soleil made a mesmerizing short film that shows lampshades appearing to come to life and have a mind of their own – without the addition of computer-generated imagery.
The five-minute-long film, entitled “SPARKED: A Live Interaction Between Humans and Quadcopters,” shows a man alone at work in a dark studio who is soon accompanied by 10 flying lampshades that rise in the air and move in sync with him – which we know are computer-controlled quadcopters adorned with lights and colorful covers.
In an accompanying video explaining the production process, Welby Altidor, the executive creative director of creation for Cirque du Soleil, says the goal was to take the “emerging technology” of drones and “bring it to another level.” He explains that the team conducted many tests in an effort to make the quadcopters disappear under the props and added a unique “personality” to each interactive object.
Raffaello D’Andrea, professor at ETH Zurich and founder of Verity Studios AG, says he and his team have been studying “flying machines” and developing algorithms for them for 15 years now. For the aircraft’s choreography in this piece, D’Andrea says he wanted to invoke “intimacy, wonder, playfulness and grace.”
“Is there a future for this in the performing arts? Absolutely,” he says. “We’re just getting started.”
Cirque du Soleil's short film can be found here.